January 3, 2007

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope this one is the best one yet for all of us :o) The hectic holiday season is finally behind us and we can get back to getting pregnant. Jeremy has been impatiently waiting for some snow but Europe is experiencing the warmest winter in 260 years! Blue skies and sunny, just like in Atlanta. That’s the way I like it.

I got my period today and as all of my tests have checked out OK, we are proceeding with another attempt for pregnancy. I just have to learn how to relax because I am so anxious and nervous about the outcome of this try. Hopefully my recently started physical therapy will help a little. I have had bad back my whole life but it got worse in the last couple of years. I didn’t have the time nor the money to take advantage of this treatment in the US. Here, it’s fully covered by my health insurance so I am taking advantage of it. I hope it helps as I am tired of the constant tingling feeling in my leg and arm.

January 10, 2007

I think I am going nuts!!!

I don’t know if it’s the hormones I’ve been taking to prepare my uterus lining or what but I don’t like it! I feel desperate, nervous, anxious, lost and on top of that all I cannot stop crying. It is a horrible feeling. Thank goodness for my wonderful husband who has been so patiently putting up with all of my ups and downs. I love you, sweetie!

I have also gained some weight as I am constantly munchie.

I was told that these are some of the possible side effects of hormonal stimulation. Some people are more sensitive to it than others.

January 16, 2007

I’ve had my ultrasound today. Everything is great – my uterus lining (endometrium) is at 9 mm, making it cozy for the embryo we’ll have transferred into my uterus. Everything else in my pelvic area looked good as well so we are good to go.

We’ve also sat down with the embryologist and talked about our options. We have 1 PGD tested embryo and 2 non-tested but quality embryos.

We have decided to go with a transfer of just the 1 PGD tested embryo again. We’ll call Monday morning to check on the “waking up” process and we’ll have the embryo transferred later that day. I cannot wait!

January 22, 2007

We’ve had our cryoembryo transfer today. In the morning, we called to see how our embryo was doing after its “freeze-sleep”. It looked a little wrinkly but didn’t loose on its quality. This embryo was transferred into my uterus at 1PM. I had a chance to come home and rest. I really needed it as my medication is really making me tired. I felt like sleeping, but I couldn’t fall asleep. My heart was pounding and I couldn’t calm myself down. It is evening now and I just got a call from our friend telling us that his wife passed away. I couldn’t believe it! I just spoke with her not long ago. Well, that didn’t help me relax at all.

I cannot even tell you how much I wish that this attempt works!

January 24, 2007

I have been overwhelmed with anxiety. I don’t seem to be able to relax. My heart keeps pounding as I am waiting for the 10 days to be over and I can find out if it worked or not.

Jeremy keeps telling me that my constant worrying will have a negative effect on this treatment but I just cannot help it. I wonder if my problem even is infertility or if it is just the power of my mind that keeps me from getting pregnant. I just don’t know how to get past it.

Everybody tells me to relax, stop thinking about it. I have tried so hard! I cannot get my mind off of it.

January 26, 2006

Time when the winter here is supposed to be winning down, we got hit with a blizzard.

All the sudden temperatures in the 50s have turned into temperatures around 0°F.

We got over 10 inches of snow in a very short period of time. Highways were blocked, airports all over Europe were shut down and passengers were stranded.

Today was the day my husband Jeremy was flying back to the US and
another couple from US was coming over here.

As flights for the US leave very early in the morning, we new we had to leave early. With the weather conditions being the way they were – unpredictable – we had to leave extra early. We had no idea what the highway to Prague was going to look like and as far as the airport, the latest news was that they were supposed to open and operate.

We didn’t want to take any chances so we have left for Prague at 1AM. We got to Prague without any problems or delays, Jeremy left on time and the couple arrived on time as well.

So things worked out good. I have just been up for two days straight. Other than that I’ve been feeling OK, no bleeding or cramping so I take that as a good sign.

January 31, 2007

Today is the day I would normally get my period. I am not cramping and other than my belly being hard and bulging out, I don’t feel any symptoms of a period. I keep taking my medications as prescribed and I will schedule my pregnancy test from my blood for Tuesday.

I have seen better days. I have gained 20 pounds since I started my hormonal stimulation. I guess on a bigger frame, it wouldn’t be as noticeable but since I started with 110 pounds, 20 pounds in 28 days
is a lot. I feel fat, swollen and ugly.

My cravings are very bad too. Before I didn’t care for sweets much, now I am eating several chocolate bars and ice cream bars a day. No wonder I am gaining weight.

I feel very sad, I am crying for now reason and I don’t feel like doing anything.

I’ve heard that these ups and downs are to be expected but I hope it will get better soon.

February 1st, 2007

Today is day 11 from our embryo transfer. I keep eating and getting bigger. When Dr. Machac saw me today, he told me I looked pregnant. Since I got my feelings hurt so many times I didn’t want to believe him. But to prove it to me, he has ordered a blood pregnancy test right there and then. He called me a couple of hours later, congratulating me on a positive pregnancy test! It was a beautiful feeling and all I could think of, was that our dream has finally come true after all these years and treatments – it felt great.

February 5, 2007

I had my follow up blood test and the result has shaken up my world again. My HCG levels were dropping. They have actually dropped down below the level that is considered pregnancy. This was a third miscarriage in the last 8 months! I took it very, very hard. I really don’t know how many more disappointments I can take.

It took me a few weeks to pull myself together and start thinking about trying again.

I have decided to try Reprofit International this time so that I could share my experience with this clinic as well.

Dr. Machac kept telling me that since I got pregnant on my own just last year, I just need to relax and I’ll get pregnant again. But I have been trying to get pregnant for so long, my entire life got consumed in it. I know that people were right when they told me that I need to relax and forget about it and it will happen. But it is so, so hard! I just cannot stop thinking about it like that!

So Dr. Machac has suggested that we try to make my stimulation as close to a natural cycle as possible. No more down regulation, no more high dosages of hormones – just a very mild stimulation. We are going to try to retrieve just a few eggs, enough for a transfer of 2 embryos. I was prescribed a stimulation protocol and scheduled for an ultrasound.

February 22, 2007

I have had my ultrasound check today. It’s been two weeks since my last period that I got as a result of discontinuing my stimulating medication after a negative HCG test, and I should be ovulating.

To my and the doctor’s disappointment, my uterus lining (endometrium) was very thin and the follicles in my ovaries were too small for ovulation – I was not ovulating and my period, necessary for the beginning of my next IVF cycle, was not going to start anytime soon. I didn’t know if I should start crying or screaming – is anything in my body going to work as it should?!

Luckily, I had great support in Dr. Machac, he was very prompt in re-arranging my IVF treatment and the whole preparation for it.

I was prescribed Norethisteron (one tablet in the morning and one tablet at night) to take from March 5 th through March 10 th. I should get my period by March 15; that was also the first day I should start my stimulation with Puregon (100IU/day).

March 14, 2007

I started spotting, a little at the beginning but then it turned into heavy spotting with clots. Since it wasn’t a “full bleed”, I didn’t count that as the first day of my period. I was thinking for sure that this heavy spotting was going to turn into a period soon.

March 15, 2007

I still didn’t get my period, the heavy spotting remained. Since I was supposed to start my stimulation today, I called the clinic and informed them of this fact. I was really upset, I was starting yet another stimulation and my body didn’t cooperate AGAIN! Luckily, I was told to count this heavy spotting of mine as a period and start my stimulation today.

My ultrasound was scheduled for March 19 th and that was going to tell us more.

March 19, 2007

I was very nervous going for my ultrasound today since the beginning of my stimulation wasn’t really the best start. But everything changed as I was encouraged by Dr. Machac. I had lots of nice sized follicles in my right ovary and a little less in the left ovary. Actually, the biggest ones measured 10mm so the doctor is considering moving up my egg retrieval from originally planned Monday, March 26 th to Sunday, March 25 th. My next ultrasound is on Thursday, March 22 nd that will tell us more and I should know exactly when my egg retrieval is going to be.

March 22 nd, 2007

Finally the doctor was pleased and I was somewhat relieved, the ultrasound showed that I was responding great to just 100IU of Puregon. I had 8 follicles in both of my ovaries combined. They were maturing on schedule so I was just prescribed Orgalutran shots to prevent me from pre-mature ovulation and my egg retrieval was scheduled for March 26th.

March 26 th, 2007

Day of my egg retrieval, I was feeling great (kind of full and ready to get all of those “hatched” eggs out of me). Anesthesia and the entire procedure went well and when I woke up I was told that I have 6 mature eggs that will be shortly fertilized with my husband’s frozen sperm using the ICSI method (unfortunately, my husband’s sperm that was stored frozen at the clinic wasn’t of the best quality this time)

I spent about 2 hours at the clinic making sure that I am good to go home and there are no complications.

March 29 th, 2007

Three days of cultivation and we have 4 embryos, two of them will be transferred today into my uterus. Again, I got to see our embryos on the screen before they were implanted – they looked so cute – perfectly round little embryos. After their release in my uterus, Dr. Machac has done an ultrasound showing me those embryos in my uterus – two little glowing dots.

I rested for about 30 minutes after the transfer and then I went home.

I tried to take it easy but my mind wouldn’t let me rest, I kept thinking about what could happen, how many times my body has failed me already and that it is up to me again to make sure that these perfect embryos turn into healthy babies.

April 4 th, 2007

Doing great, I am not experiencing any problems. This week I will be assisting 4 couples who have come here to undergo their treatment so I am glad that everything is well, I’ll need all the energy I can get.

April 10 th, 2007

We have been doing a lot of walking, touring and sightseeing. I feel a little tired but that is expected on progesterone. No spotting, cramping or bleeding –would this time be finally the last IVF treatment we’ll go through?

April 15 th, 2007

I have been spotting a little, I wasn’t thrilled to find out but I know from experience that spotting doesn’t really mean anything. But today I started to bleed. Since it has been over 2 weeks, I went ahead and had my blood tested. Although, I didn’t expect any positive news, I’ll never give up hoping. The results were negative, again! Well, another attempt that has failed. Time to stop my meds, let my body get back to normal and think about the next transfer.

We still have embryos frozen from our first IVF in September so I’ll start working on scheduling my next attempt for pregnancy.

I promised myself and my family that this is going to be the last one and then I’ll take a break. I think I need it mentally and physically.

Well, it’s been over 7 months since we arrived in Czech hoping to get pregnant.
In that time I have gone through 2 IVF stimulations with my own eggs and 1 frozen embryo transfer. The doctors and myself have always been optimistic as I have always responded great to stimulations but unfortunately, I am not able to keep the embryos in my uterus after the transfer.

We still cannot figure out why I am not getting pregnant as all the blood tests and ultrasounds show no problems – actually, according to the doctors I should be getting pregnant on my own!

So anyway, we have approached every treatment a little differently hoping, that it may be just the thing my body needs to finally “grab and hold” those embryos.

I am getting ready for my last attempt this year, to get pregnant using our frozen embryos from October 2006.

I have read and been told by my doctors that the best time to try to get pregnant is immediately after a failed treatment as the body is already “prepped” for pregnancy.

I didn’t want to miss a minute, we have counted the day I started bleeding and stopped taking my medication as day 1 of my cycle.

May 5, 2007

I have taken a shot of Diphereline – this medication comes in two separate vials so it needs to be mixed (I had to stir it for a little longer than I expected as it didn’t dissolve right away). Also this shot is given into the buttocks so I needed assistance.

Well, with Jeremy thousands of miles away, I had to ask my mother for assistance. She was nervous and scared but we managed. The needle was much bigger than what I was used to from my FSH medication so I was expecting the shot to hurt but to my surprise, it was rather painless.

May 18, 2007

As Diphereline is suppose to “drain me” of all female hormones, I sure was feeling the side effects. I was very sensitive, emotional, I would cry for no reason,… Also, I didn’t get my period so I had an ultrasound scheduled to check that everything was progressing well. Dr. Machac was happy with the findings so we started with the actual stimulation of my uterus lining. I started taking estrogens 3 times daily. The very next day I started my period.

May 31, 2007

Today was my first check up on my uterus lining’s growth. My endometrium measured 8.75mm. It was enough for my treatment and the dr. was happy with the findings I was kind of disappointed as I have seen patients having 10,14,16mm and I thought that mine wasn’t thick enough. But we all are different.

My ET was scheduled for June 6th

June 6, 2007

Both of our frozen embryos made it through the thawing process and they were ready for implantation.

I tried to stay positive but all I could think about was the fact that I am there alone, this is my 4th artificial attempt to get pregnant and how much I want this one to work. There wasn’t anything I would wish for more than to arrive back to Atlanta and tell my husband that I have finally succeeded.

So again, the minute the embryos were placed into my uterus, my heart started pounding, blood was rushing trough my body and I just couldn’t calm myself down no matter what

This time around, I promised myself, to keep my sanity, that I was NOT going to think about my treatment and just spend my free time with friends and family to keep my mind busy. Well, it’s easier said than done. No matter what I did I couldn’t stop thinking about what is possibly going on inside of me and if this is going to finally lead to pregnancy.

June 12, 2007

I started to spot. At first I was very upset but then I remembered that spotting is not really a sign that it’s all over. As bad as it was, I still kept taking my meds as prescribed and hoped for the best.

June 13, 2007

Spotting stopped all by itself so I regained some hope.

June 16, 2007

After almost 5 months apart, I have arrived back home in Atlanta, GA. Although, Jeremy and I have been in a daily contact via phone and web camera, seeing him in person again was very emotional. Gosh, how much I wished to have some good news for him!

June 18, 2007

My HCG test came back at 1.3 – meaning not pregnant. Although, I have been through this disappointment before, it didn’t make it any easier to suffer yet another failure!

Before I stopped taking my meds, I took some pregnancy test hoping that the blood test was wrong…

It takes me about a week to get all the medication out of my system and return to normal where I can think straight again.

I have had 4 treatments in the last 9 months and I have failed in all of them. It is time for me to take a little break from all the trying, shots, pills, timing.

In the last 9 months I have met with over 30 couples that came to Czech with us to undergo their treatment and heard stories of hundreds more.

In the last 9 months, I have seen miracles happen – cancer survivors whose doctors have given up on them getting pregnant, a woman who was scheduled for a hysterectomy by her US doctor and is now pregnant with twins after her first IVF, wonderful lady who has been on HRT medications and steroids most of her life to keep her other medical conditions stable was told she could never have children and today she is 4 months pregnant, girl whose laparoscopy damaged her ovaries and produced only 2 follicles is now pregnant with twins after her single IVF treatment. The stories go on.

I have also met people who tried for 10+ years and underwent 10+ IVF treatments before they’ve succeeded. I know we all want it to work the very first time but stories like these give me hope as nothing in this world is guaranteed and who knows, I may still need to learn a lot before I can be a good mom and that takes time!

So what is my next step? First of all, I need to get my body back in shape – all the stimulations, hormonal ups and downs and my mom’s home cooking have left me with a few extra pounds. I am going to get back to my work out routine, cleanse my body and enjoy life for a little while.

No, I cannot completely forget about my fertility struggle, not for a second. I have, however, learned not to let it ruin my day to day life.

Although, my husband doesn’t want to hear anything about it, I am looking into surrogacy. My husband believes what the doctors have been telling us that based on no problems found that we still should be able to get pregnant on our own.

Well, I am not willing to let the time go by again as I have been told this 3 years ago. Then it was going to be just Clomid, then surgeries, then IUI, then IVF and I have failed them all. I cannot afford to just sit and wait if it happens. My uterus have failed me so many times that it’s time to look beyond IVF. Don’t get me wrong, I am still secretly hoping and wishing that we won’t get that far but it never hurts to know your options.

Thank you for all of your support, prayers and words of encouragement. Although the last year has been the most difficult one in my entire life, it has also been the most rewarding one. I have met many wonderful people from all parts of this world; we have shared our family struggles and I have seen so many of them get pregnant.

I would also like to thank all the doctors and nurses that are doing their best to help me and my husband make our dream of a family come true. Their knowledge and support have made my treatments and failures easier to go through.

I know that we will be parents some day, somehow!

November, 2007

Well, we did it again!

I was spending a little over two months in Czech from the end of August to mid November and to my surprise it was my husband who suggested that we try again. I had my FSH, LH, TSH and Prolactin checked and the levels were good (surprisingly they were same as one year ago).

As with our any previous pregnancy attempt, we tried different things as no doctor can figure out where the problem may be. I have also asked for another treating doctor. So this time the doctor in charge of my stimulation, egg retrieval and embryo transfer was Dr. Mark. As Eva, our patients’ hostess, and I were attending to patients scheduled for their treatment during that time frame, I was in and out of my own appointments.

You would think that by now I would be used to things not going smoothly for me and constantly overcoming obstacles. This time around I caught a cold shortly after my arrival in Czech. At first I tried to use all home remedies known to me and my Mom to fight this naturally. But I guess running around and driving at all hours of the day and night didn’t help. My body started to fight a fever. I went to see my family doctor and he prescribed antibiotics. So the beginning of my stimulation wasn’t perfect as I had a sore throat, fever and was totally congested. I started antibiotics the first day of my stimulation. Luckily, I was feeling much better a few days later. I was anxious to find out how many follicles were going to show on the first ultrasound. Dr. Mark and I were both relieved that he counted over 10 follicles.

My second ultrasound showed 18 follicles and I was instructed on when to take my trigger shot. It happened to be the exact time when I was supposed to pick my husband up at the airport, as he came to join me for a few days and “do his part”.

Well, that wasn’t a problem for me. I consider myself a pro by now, so I easily gave myself a shot at the airport restroom.

On the way back to Brno we did a little tour of Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, Cervena Lhota and Hluboka.

Dr. Mark retrieved 14 follicles and 13 of them were mature. They all were fertilized by Jeremy’s sperm (that the lab found excellent) by the ICSI method.

The first day we had 11 fertilized embryos. By day three we still had 11 excellent, grade I, embryos so we decided to wait until day 5 to do our transfer.

In the mean time, my husband and I were taking trips with other patients and our friends. We had a great time and it was a little vacation as he had to leave shortly after my ET and I was going to stay for another month.

We transferred 2 perfect embryos and the next day we had additional 4 embryos frozen. The two weeks wait was not easy. It is never easy for me! I couldn’t stop thinking and worrying about those babies in me. I wished I could just fall asleep and wake up two weeks later when it is time to do the hCG test. Although it felt like that day was never going to come, it did and I couldn’t wait to find out, as I was feeling good, my breasts were swollen and VERY sensitive. I finally got the call. I was over the moon when the doctor told me that my test came back positive. He started to congratulate me and I was thrilled! So we finally did it. I couldn’t believe it. I immediately called my husband and I couldn’t help to cry. We have been waiting for this moment so long. Since our fertility journey was so long and hard, the doctors wanted to monitor me closely and didn’t want to leave anything to chance. At my second hCG test, my numbers were still going up and I was feeling good. I was glowing with joy. I still couldn’t believe that it was finally happening. If only I could make it through this horrible 6 week mark, I thought I could do it (my last pregnancy when we conceived naturally lasted only 6 weeks and 1 day). It was around that time when I was going for another blood test when I was told that my numbers dropped drastically. I had to use every bit of my energy so that I wouldn’t break down and cry right then and there in the doctor’s office.

Our happiness was cut short again. No reason, no explanation, just that the fetus stopped developing.

So much blood was drawn that day and numerous tests were ordered to see what was happening. I was living through another nightmare. It is hard enough to go through the loss but stopping all the medication and having a sudden hormonal drop is very hard. I was very emotional and I kept going over and over in my head what I have done wrong. What I should or could have done differently to prevent this? I was drowning myself in my own thoughts that provided no explanation?

I guess the hardest part for me was, just heads up: you may found the next description gross or TMI, when I started to bleed a few days after stopping all of my meds and it was when I was stepping into the shower, when this huge glob fell out of me. I have never seen anything like this. I was curious and I started looking closely into it. It was a perfect embryonic sac measuring about 3 inches. That’s where my baby was developing. That was the last straw. I just broke down right there on the bathroom floor and kept repeating why us? Why us?

It took me sometime to pull myself together again but coming back home to my husband “empty handed” again was really hard. Luckily, I have a wonderful, loving and supportive husband. It helps when overcoming things like these a great deal.

We both had to admit that the fact that our embryos were healthy and they did attach to my uterus and started to grow was a tremendous success for us. We know now that we can conceive. We just need to work harder on maintaining the pregnancy. That is going to be our next step. We have embryos frozen and I will come back for them in the near future.

I have started seeing an acupuncturist on a regular basis again. I am taking herbs that she prescribed. I am seeing a counselor to help me cope with the “HORRIBLE” two week wait following the embryo transfer so that I can be more calm providing a better environment for our baby. I am exercising again and am trying to eat a well balanced diet. Hopefully, this together with other medication will be the way for us to a successful embryo transfer.

Thank you all for your support and wonderful words of encouragement when I was going through the toughest times of my life. Also, thank you Dr. Mark and Dr. Stephan for your professional attention and care that you have provided me together with the rest of your team.

I wouldn’t have made it without each and every one of you!

You can read more details about all of our IVF treatments and attempts to get pregnant below.

WHAT ARE PATIENTS SAYING ABOUT MY IVF ALTERNATIVE

Please take a moment and accept an invitation to other fertility challenged couples’ lives and listen and see what they have to say about their fertility challenges, their trip to Czech with My IVF Alternative and their outcomes.

IVF SUCCESS REPEATED BY CARA

BEN AND JULIE TURNING STRUGGLES INTO GREAT IVF VACATIONS

CARRIE – YEARS OF TEARS HEARD BY MOTHER NATURE

BEN AND JULIE – Q&AS

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